Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Guilt Funk

I have spent the past few days struggling under one of the heaviest burdens a mother can place upon herself.  Guilt.

Isn't it amazing how you can go through the day, feeling, as Simon calls it, "funky," without realizing why?  (Funky, as in, "in a funk," aka throwing little temper tantrums in your head (or out of it) all day long.  Flipping out over nothing, because something bigger is wrong and you haven't faced it or figured it out.)  I am constantly trying to train myself to catch this midstream, address it, and get over it.  It's hard.  Especially when it's a nagging, come-and-go kind of funk.  The kind that sneaks up on you when the quiet of naptime finally descends, or you walk into your kitchen to a sink-and-counter full of dirty dishes, and you suddenly feel like crying and/or screaming.

So, the name of the game lately:  guilt funk.  I'm feeling guilty for...something...and it starts to seep into my whole life, coloring my view of things and overburdening my heart.

Here's why this time.  A couple of weeks ago, I began looking into teaching a couple of home school curriculum programs to Caleb.  Nothing big, just a basic math (as in counting and matching) and phonics program.  Then I started calling friends with lower school backgrounds, getting recommendations, and trying to make the best choice for us.

Then I started reading blogs.  Enter guilt.

I am constantly amazed at the level of accomplishment and perfection some women attain!!  I found a blog of one slightly obsessive woman who had made out a daily schedule (on a weekly basis--Mondays, do this, Tuesdays, this, etc).  She had vacuuming, dusting and laundry EVERY DAY.  No joke.  I am super-lucky if I dust once a week.  It's really more like, if I can make a finger-line on my beside table, then I'll put it on the "to-do" list.  And get to it within a few days.

Okay, I am not that bad, really.  I keep things nice and tidy around here.  But I am also not that good.  NO thirty-minute increments here.  And then I find other, home-schooling blogs, with more women, feeling guilty because they only did two hours of school and then a nature walk and then cleaned the house today.  Geez, what a lazybones.

And it creeps in.  The doubt.  "Wait, am I supposed to be doing it that way?  What in the world am I doing wrong, if my day is filled before I even get to the dusting?  My kid can't count to twenty!  He only counts to ten if we're counting jellybeans--cause it's no fun otherwise!  Am I a bad mom, bad wife, lazy jerk?  I do read a little each day.  And, yeah, I'm sometimes worthless until 8:30 or 9:00 am, depending on who slept/didn't sleep the night before.  Am I a failure?"

Then comes the Unrealistic Resolve:  "I must do better.  I will get up at six tomorrow morning.  There will be NO TELEVISION.  I will play with my child ALL DAY, and by the end of the day he will be able to count to twenty, say the alphabet AND know three more catechism questions."

And of course, the guilt.  Because I start out NOT getting up at six, and the rest of the day fails just as miserably.  And then I angrily tell myself that those Crazy Blogging Women are the weirdos, not me.  But I can't quite believe it...and am harangued by doubt and guilt thereafter.

SO.  Let's be real.  My kid is two.  I have every intention of starting a great homeschool program with him.  However, we can't afford it yet.  Saving, yes.  Buying now?  No.  Why do I allow myself to feel guilty for that?  I don't.  Not anymore.

Satan LOVES guilt.  And I think, as a young mother, I am more prone to it than any other time in my life so far.  And when I get into a guilt funk, I start to sin, bigtime.  I get sullen, resentful, defensive and--get this--lazy.  Enter more guilt, perpetuate problem.  And Satan's dancing around laughing at the fact that, just by presenting me with a few women (who I don't even know!!) who do things differently--or, let's face it, better--than me, he can cause complete and total meltdown in my life.  How infuriating!

I know, just know that there are those of you out there doing just the same thing.  And I know--of course!--that I can and should continue to grow, change and better myself and my life around here.  But what I must not do, if I can help it, is allow myself to live under a constant weight of guilt and self-loathing.  Because that doesn't just get me nowhere, it actually makes me worse!

So...be encouraged!  I am not perfect.  I can see a sinkful of dirty dishes from where I am typing!  And, here's another "secret."  I don't post blogs about the stuff I do wrong very often.  Blogging is a controlled way to look fabulous--even in our guilt!  "Oh, I did such a bad job today, only cleaning the house and washing the dog and mowing the yard and teaching my kid Yiddish.  I mean to paint my toenails, too."  Bleh.

Don't be fooled by other women.  We all have our weaknesses.  Be confident that, with grace, we can change!  Be honest that, without it, no schedule or resolve would ever be even slightly effective!  And, when you feel guilty, like we all do, stop.  Acknowledge it.  Confess it.  Speak Truth to yourself--or get your husband to do it.  They're great at that, I find.  And go on.  Ask for grace and go on!

And, sorry for the dust.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rubber Ducky Cake

I made this for my nephew, Titus' first birthday!  Isn't it cute?  I had such a fun time making it, and it really wasn't that much work!

I found it on this website:


I intend to make Caleb the train for his birthday, October 1.  I actually intend to become a cake genius, a la Cake Boss.  (If you have never seen Cake Boss, watch it.  It's available instantly on Netflix!  Just don't blame me when your husband decides he must run to the grocery store and buy a cake from the bakery.  I am not exaggerating here, either.)

Here are a few more angles of Ducky:

And he was very sweetly and happily enjoyed by the birthday boy:

And this was what he ended up looking like:

I think he liked it!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Ulta with a Kiddo

This fall's ' it-color.'  Which will not impress your kid.

Oh man...I did a stupid, stupid thing today!  I went to Ulta with my children.

I know, this was a bad idea.  Kids, especially three-year-olds, do not belong in a huge store, full of expensive, fragile makeup.  Duh.

But I thought, "My kid is a good kid.  I've taught him how to handle himself.  This will take fifteen minutes, tops.  How bad could it be?"  What I did not say to myself that I should have:  "It is already past his afternoon naptime.  He is tired, therefore unlikely to be overly cooperative.  Also, you have another child with you.  You are 50% more encumbered than you used to be."

So, in we went.  All was well, as we grabbed mascara, a pencil sharpener, and the two shades of Essie nail polish I really wanted.  Not so much anymore.  Two nail polishes were so not worth the following.

We got up to the front desk, and Caleb, who was allowed to take one small, yellow tractor into the store with him, starts driving it (with realistic noises, but at a fairly unrealistic noise level) along the big, white checkout counter.  The lady in front of us gives us one of those looks.  You know the kind.  It signals to you that this woman either never was a mother or hated her children until they were adults.  I calmly and sweetly tell Caleb to drive his tractor back towards me, which he does not do.

Pause.  I am, at this moment, carrying Lyla in her carseat.  I also have a huge diaper bag hanging off the other shoulder.  In my hands are mascara, two slippery nail polish bottles and a pencil sharpener that I have already dropped and popped open once.  Unpause.

When Caleb ignores me, the woman in front of us tips her head in a that-was-just-what-I-expected-him-to-do kind of gesture, and inches forward.  I blush, and start forward toward him, repeating myself.  As he pulls away, I realize how almost immobile I am at this point; how powerless I am, since I have Lyla, etc.

The world freezes as I lock eyes with Caleb.  He seems to read my mind.

And he's off.

Like a flash, running and giggling.  Out of sight in two seconds flat.

And what do you do at this point?  Let me say, the temptation to become that screaming mother you've seen in the grocery store line was incredibly strong.  Luckily, as I turned, I caught the gaze of the woman in line behind me, who is pregnant, and gives me a sweet, understanding smile--with no pity in it, bless her!--and I snap into gear.  I handed my products to the salesclerk, and said, "I am so sorry, but I am gonna give you these and have to go grab my kiddo."  I completely ignorned the Horrible Woman as I scooted past her, and luckily, she left the store after that.

Then Caleb and I engaged in the game of standing on either end of the aisles, with him running ahead a few, giggling furiously, then stopping to wait for me to haul myself and Lyla far enough to catch sight of him, say, "Come here, Caleb," and then he screeches and takes off again.  There is never fewer than a good thirty feet between the two of us.

And I am seeing red, red, red by this time, and have become a spectacle to boot.  I am starting to realize that this horrible game is going to go on as long as he wants it to--cause what am I gonna do, put Lyla down in the middle of the store so I can be fast enough to make it down the aisle before he disappears again?  Can't do that.  After maybe 30 seconds, he finally comes down towards me into one of the aisles as I get to it.  There were three girls in this row, of course.  I pulled together every ounce of dignity and command I had left and said, in my firmest, most un-disregardable voice, "Caleb, come here right NOW."  I may have gotten just a tad loud on the last word, but, well, I was doing good not screaming at the top of my very lungs.

Thank goodness for the three (very entertained) girls in that aisle, cause Caleb looked up at them and suddenly became Obedient Caleb, and meekly walked up to me, and put out his hand to mine. We returned to the checkout counter (believe me, it took what little self control I had left to actually go buy the stupid nail polish; never in my life have I wanted to buy something less), and out the door.  

Caleb, of course, has been summarily dealt with by now, and is quite clear on the ins and outs of running away from Mom in stores.  Not that he'll be in another one anytime soon.